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Back Write Corner

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Boxer dog making note on vintage typewriter

Boxer dog making note on vintage typewriter

Boxer dog making note on vintage typewriter

Emily Williams, Online Content Editor

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Struggling to write a poetry or prose piece? Don’t worry, just look in the back WRITE corner! Here I will go through tips I’ve curated from my experiences and what I’ve learned from critiques and class. Happy writing!

Alright, so you have your idea for your beautiful prose, and you’re sitting at your computer, all ready to go. But, you’re stuck because you have no clue on how to begin.
First lines are the worst. You have the idea for your whole story. You got the characters, the plot, the setting, but where do you start?
Here are some ideas.
1. Just throw ‘em in there.
There’s this wonderful term called media res and basically what you’re doing here is plopping your audience down right in the thick of things. For example, your character is fighting a tiger. Don’t take the time to set the scene. Start with something like: The jaws of the ferocious beast were eager for a taste of my flesh. Are you intrigued? This keeps the reader on their toes and they want to read on and find out what’s happening. And, if you didn’t plan on starting in your most suspenseful scene, you could have a little fun later and do some flashbacks and then fast forward back to the present scene that was in your intro.
2. Make it cinematic.
Imagine you have a camera. First, you’re going to capture the scene in its entirety and then slowly zoom in to the main subject. In your writing, you can make the first line sort of ambiguous and a teaser for what’s to come and then start to develop and zoom in in your introduction. This captures your reader’s attention because, again, they want to know what your piece is about.
3. Keep it short and sweet.
Something I really enjoy is when people have really simple, to the point first lines because they can be so powerful. One of my favorites is in Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and it’s “It was a pleasure to burn.” There is nothing fancy about it, yet it really stands out and is very effective.
There are so many other ways to start your prose, but those were just a few to get your brain churning. I suggest making a list of as many ideas as you can think of and then picking from your favorite so that way you’re doing something productive other than just staring at the blank Word document.
And when in doubt just start writing. You may think of a good first line later or find something you had written within the piece that would work as the opening.
Just play around and experiment a little!

Emily Williams ’18 || Lit Staff

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